Both Candidates Hide Health Concerns


Written by Micahel Medved

Many Americans feel desperately dissatisfied with their choices in this presidential campaign, but they may take some comfort in the thought that serious health issues could yet sideline one, or both, of the major party contenders.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump has released comprehensive medical records to address serious concerns about the physical condition of these two aging Boomers. If the 70-year-old Trump wins in November, he’ll become the oldest individual ever to assume the nation’s highest office. If Clinton prevails in November, she’ll be 69 for her January inauguration — the second oldest in history and just several months younger than Ronald Reagan when he took office.

In contrast to other recent contenders who ran for office at an advanced age, these two have treated their health histories with a conspicuous lack of transparency. When John McCain sought the presidency for the first time at age 64 in 2000, he proudly released 1,500 pages of detailed medical and psychiatric records. Clinton has provided only rudimentary information about the serious challenges she has experienced in the past decade. Shortly after becoming secretary of State in 2009, she fractured her right elbow when she fell on the way to her State Department car. She fell again in 2012, suffering a serious concussion after she fainted, and leading her doctors to discover a blood clot that incapacitated her for more than a month. Her husband later told ABC News that her injury “required six months of very serious work to get over” — though no one knows precisely what that “very serious work” entailed. During the course of this campaign, she has also suffered through several painful, public coughing fits.

Trump has revealed even less about his health history and tried instead to reassure his supporters with a brief physician’s statement that sounds suspiciously as if it had been dictated by Trump himself. That document announced that “laboratory test results were astonishingly excellent” while failing to disclose the specifics of those results. The doctor also said his patient’s “physical strength and stamina are extraordinary” and concluded with the ringing proclamation: “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

The doctor clearly reached this scientific (and unequivocal) conclusion without benefit of examining any (let alone all) of Trump’s presidential predecessors, while it’s also unclear when he last evaluated the “extraordinary” physical strength of his own patient. Trump released the summary with an embarrassing flourish on Dec. 4, declaring: “I am proud to share this health report, written by the highly respected Dr. Jacob Bornstein of Lenox Hill Hospital.” He failed to note the inconvenient fact that the “highly respected” Dr. Bornstein he cited had died five years earlier at the age of 93; it was actually his son, Dr. Harold Bornstein, who signed the flattering, four-paragraph description of the candidate.

With unanswered questions about both candidates’ physical fitness to handle the nation’s most demanding job, many skeptical observers might feel encouraged by the idea that neither one of them looks like a safe bet for a second term. The actuarial tables for prior presidents shows the average age of death for those who expired of natural causes stands at 73 years — a milestone that either Trump or Clinton would reach before the end of a first term.

In fact, both might benefit if they limited their service to four years. Only six presidents have lived to celebrate their 90th birthdays: John Adams, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. Five of those hardy nonagenarians — all except Reagan — served only a single term and then lost their bids for re-election.

This strange pattern suggests the crushing nature of the job, which exacts such a punishing toll on those who toil in the Oval Office for more than four years and seems to diminish chances for extended life. The prospect that the next chief executive might well turn out to be a one-term wonder should not only relieve voters who look on both of this year’s candidates with disdain, but also might encourage the contenders themselves about the odds of savoring a long life after the White House.

This article was originally posted at

Michael Medved hosts a nationally syndicated talk radio show and is a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors.